Friday, December 23, 2011

DC versus NYC

One of my favorite writers discusses life in DC versus life in NYC. Often a dilemma for me too.

Would Andrew Ever Leave DC?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"She Went to Vassar" and So Did I

This short film was done in 1931 by a 1927 graduate of Vassar by the name of Marvin Breckinridge '27, a self-taught filmmaker.

According to the notes  -
Her first post-Vassar claim to fame was a documentary called "The Forgotten Frontier" about the Frontier Nursing Service (founded by her cousin, Mary Breckinridge). Breckinridge went on to a distinguished career in photojournalism and broadcast reporting. When World War II broke out, she became the first woman foreign correspondent to join the staff of a radio network (CBS). The original "She Goes to Vassar" was a silent film, following a freshman through the course of her first year at the college. This version was remastered with a music soundtrack in honor of Vassar's Centennial in 1961.
And it was posted up to YouTube in honor of our 150th anniversary in 2011.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sullivan on Hitchen's Work and Play Compulsion

Andrew Sullivan writes of Hitchens that he didn't worry about Hitchen's drinking and smoking but rather...
But I sometimes wondered about this compulsion always to be on the move, always to say yes, always to file on time, always to take that trip, when a little restful weekend might have been healthier. 
I have a few friends, one in particular, about whom I wonder and, yes, worry that he is always on the move, always traveling, always working.   When some rest might be healthier.   Remind those you love to rest some this holiday season.

Read the loving post, which also takes on the cliche of drinking and writing here.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top 15 Hitchens Quotes

Not sure I agree with all of these The 15 Most Memorable Christopher Hitchens Quotes from BuzzFeed.  

But I do like #7 (on George Bush) and #15.    #15 is
"The four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics."

Love Letter to DC

Wow, great night time video of Washington DC.  Check it out.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sad News - Cesaria Evora Died

Gosh - first Christopher Hitchens died on Friday.  I plan to write and post about him, what he meant to me and why - but I've not been able to yet.  I will.  I will.  And on Vaclav Havel too.

And now the very, very sad news that Cesaria Evora has died.  She had a stroke in September.   The LA Times obituary wrote this:  
Her singing style brought comparisons to American jazz singerBillie Holiday and the great French singer Edith Piaf.   
"She belongs to the aristocracy of bar singers," French newspaper Le Monde said in 1991, adding that Evora had "a voice to melt the soul."
She melted mine.  I got to see her once here in DC, at the Lisner Auditorium.  I will never forget it.  Such joy and astonishing beauty moved me to tears.  She is one of my goddesses.   
The only music concert DVD I own is hers.   I own all of her albums and play them all the time, but among my favorite of her songs are Angola, Sodade, Embarcacao and, of course, the magnificent "Carnaval De Sao Vincente."  I love listening to that one on a summer day with the roof down.  Whenever, where ever, it never fails to make me smile.  Except for today.  
If I die a slow death I hope to do so while listening to her singing as I don't know a better soul to usher me into the divine.   

Here is her official web site
Hitchens rattled my brain but she moved my heart.  Thank you, barefoot diva.    

Saturday, December 17, 2011

David Corn Shares What It Was Like to Share an Office with Hitchens

I admire David Corn too and had no idea he shared an office with Christopher Hitchens when they were young.  Read the whole piece Hitchens and I Shared an Office; Hitchens habits and social life and work life still fascinates.  The stamina.  

Corn writes:
I did learn much from Hitchens, but never how to function in quite this manner. What allowed him to live such a packed life was a trait that any of us would relish: He never forgot what he had ever read or learned. His mind was always expanding. That was a natural gift that few of us possess. He could not teach it. But observing Hitchens practice his craft and thrust and parry with intellectuals almost as sharp as him was as valuable an experience as I could have imagined. It sure beat attending J-school. 

I can just imagine!

Christopher Buckley's Tribute to Hitchens

Christopher Buckley writes Postscript: Christopher Hitchens at the New Yorker:

Love this:

Lunch—dinner, drinks, any occasion—with Christopher always was. One of our lunches, at Café Milano, the Rick’s Café of Washington, began at 1 P.M., and ended at 11:30 P.M. At about nine o’clock (though my memory is somewhat hazy), he said, “Should we order more food?” I somehow crawled home, where I remained under medical supervision for several weeks, packed in ice with a morphine drip. Christopher probably went home that night and wrote a biography of Orwell. His stamina was as epic as his erudition and wit.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christopher Hitchens' Smile

I love this man's brain.  Even if I didn't always agree with him he was always witty, smart and brutally honest.

And very handsome.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Which Preferred? Outright Rejection or Silence?

I listen the Slate's Political Gabfest podcast nearly every week.  And at the end they all provide what they call "cocktail chatter," wherein they discuss something offbeat, intriguing or appealing to discuss at your weekend cocktail parties.  They are often interesting.  This week, one particularly interested me.

You can listen here.   The cocktail chatter begins at 45:51.   Emily discusses a poor man's letter that was on Reddit, then Jezebel from a man indignant that a woman he had dated once had not even deigned to provide him with a response of rejection.   Sadly for this man ended up on the internet.  I went and read it and frankly I just felt sorry and compassion for the guy.  Every one has been the recipient of similar missives, though maybe not as long and not quite as weird and for different reasons.  I can't quite recall but I certainly hope I was kinder, provided some response.

Emily brought it up because she felt that feeling is universal - the feeling of being mystified when you thought you had clicked with someone in someway and it clearly turned out you were wrong, thats a really upsetting feeling.  The other two men felt she was abusing and subjecting this poor man to ridicule.

Emily admitted she was both rubbernecking, yet felt it seems really sad that she was so heartless.  "I do think that not responding the is cruelest thing of all.  I would much rather get bad than no news.  Do you guys feel that way?"

Both her male companions each agreed that they would prefer bad news to no news.

Then they did a quick auditory poll of the audience.  After a first date, you are not going to go out with person x after the first date, would you respond in the negative?  And if you are a person who doesn't respond at all?  - seemed pretty even (though second one seemed more male!)

And if you were to get the email, "sorry this just isn't going to work."  Is there anyone who would rather get no email, no call back?  Any one in the room?   Would you prefer silence? Make noise if you would prefer silence.  Dead silence ensues.  

Emily noted that this is the cause of a lot of suffering - the acute universal sense that a response is always better.

At the end they always  - they discussed the trend of facial hair among young people, which fascinated me because.   That segued into why beards were so popular around the time of the Civil War, revealing   1861 Adam Goodheart - tells the stories of that year.  Theory was that because during the war it was heard to "tend to yourself" but soldiers in earlier wars weren't bearded.  Reason was a form a political nationalism - expressing masculinity and indomitable will.  Started 5-6 years before the war, after pictures from the revolutionaries of 1848 were all bearded and photographs of them made it to the US so men in the 1850s started to grow beards.

Pretty cool.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

"Once" Again and Again and Again

Last night, as I typically do, I went to the NPR website to survey the day's stories and add them to my playlist.  I switch them around in order of importance, hit play, and try to fall asleep.  The monotone tenor and the interest of the stories usually serve well enough to distract me from the pain and enable me to slip into some slumber.

But last night, I was incredulous to see this story "Once" and Again: A Love Story Gets A Second Life that aired yesterday morning on Morning Edition.  It's actually a third life, but more on that in a second.

When the film was out on DVD, in 2007, a friend I have loved and admired for over twenty years told me I had to see the film, Once.   I did of course and I did like it.  But I didn't quite understand his deep affection for the film.

Edna Walsh, the Dublin playwright adapting the film for the stage said this in the NPR interview:
Her character sort of barely existed on-screen, but for me [she] was all about the light — was all about someone who could change your world and change your life, immediately," Walsh says. "There's this sort of maelstrom of sort of emotion that goes on with her."When he was called for this project, he confesses, Walsh had never seen the movie."I watched it and I thought, 'Oh right, this is It's A Wonderful Life, effectively.' You know, the story of a guy who's sort of given up on stuff, and this sort of angel arrives and casts a light over his life somehow, and the people around him."
Well, now I do understand.  And agree.

It's strange because I've been thinking of my friend a lot lately and things connected to him have been popping up all over.  In a theater, to watch a film last week, while the previews were being shown much to my surprise there was a preview for a film I'd not even heard of (rare for me) - The Swell Season.   It's a documentary about Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, and that's the second life.   I had read they had broken up; the cynic in me wasn't surprised.  But here, years later, was a non-fiction film about their lives, on tour, in the aftermath of Once's popularity.   I was surprised, heartened and pleased to tears.   I have not yet seen The Swell Season but I plan too.  Maybe later today I will go do that.

Here is the preview:

And then last night the NPR story, which illuminated for me other aspects of the appeal of the story.  I am keen to see the play in NYC.  And so then I google for the New York Times review of the Off Broadway production and to read and find out more, and here is the fourth life for the story - Even Before Off Broadway Opening Once Announces A Move To Broadway.   Was posted on the Arts Blog last night around 7 pm.
Just as the musical “Once” was about to open at New York Theater Workshop Tuesday night, the show’s commercial producers announced that it would go directly to Broadway after the Off Broadway run.Based on the 2007 movie of the same name, “Once” will begin previews at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater on Feb. 28, with opening night set for March 18.
Well, I can't wait to see it - off Broadway or on.  I very much hope I can - sometime, somehow, do so with my long and lost friend.

I remember seeing this 35 minute Tiny Desk Concert a few years back, in 2009.  Here's the description:
Fans of the musical Once will recognize its stars, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, in this enormously charming Tiny Desk Concert straight from NPR Music, in which they showed off six new songs before finishing up with "When Your Mind's Made Up." It's impossible to convey how lovely — how warm and genuine — this performance was in person, but seeing the video, which really does show them sitting behind Bob Boilen's real desk surrounded by Bob Boilen's real stuff, is really stunning. 
I agree.

And here is the video:

Great Expectations for Great Expectations

Which is to say, I expect this drama to eventually appear in the US - either on PBS Masterpiece or on BBC America.   Meanwhile, here is the yummy British preview:

 Great Expectations is my second favorite Dickens novel (the first being A Tale of Two Cities) but I must say Great Expectations is more often dramatized on television or film, and often very well.   Maybe because so many scenes are so vivid. I still love the one with Anne Bancroft and Ethan Hawke. I seem to even remember the haunting music.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Intelligence, Agency, Attractiveness and Perception

This news is unbelievable and certainly resonates for me.

A friend first posted the piece on Facebook and then Andrew Sullivan highlighted The Psychology of Nakedness by Jonah Lehrer over at

It's worth clicking over to see the pictures.  Will make me consider wearing an off the shoulder dress, for sure!  

And I really appreciate the discarding of Descartes' division,
This work also raises important philosophical questions. Ever since Descartes, it’s been suggested that people are natural dualists, dividing the world into an immaterial realm full of souls and a physical world full of objects. This simple framework, however, appears to be a bit too simple.
Indeed.  I found that framework too simple and unhelpful in yoga and disease as well.

Then there is this:
 Instead of seeing the individual as having agency, he or she became a means to an end, nothing but a vessel for our satisfaction. Kant was describing a phenomenon known as objectification, in which seeing a body turns the entire person into a physical object. This idea is frequently invoked when describing studies like this, which found that women are far more likely to appear in magazine advertisements as an attractive body, while men are typically represented by their faces.
Followed up by this:
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the redistribution of mind can’t do damage. If you’re a female applying for a job, the sometimes sexist tendency of men to focus on the body will unfairly diminish perceptions of agency and intelligence; you will be punished for having breasts. Although the woman won’t be literally objectified, the redistribution of mind will still make her much less likely to be hired.
It's surreal to have experience and instinct backed up by now by new science.  The minds of men, when they perceive attractiveness, have trouble believing an attractive woman also enjoys intelligence and agency.  Hence the disturbing tendency of some intelligent women to downplay their sexual attractiveness and keep that light under a bushel.   What a quagmire.  What a shame.  

Medieval Knights, Violence and PTSD

The SAXO Unit at the University of Copenhagen is studying the subject of knights and violence which I find fascinating.  As reported at in a piece entitled Violent Knights Feared Post-traumatic Stress, violence was not as glorified as we have been lead to believe.  

They discuss a book written by a knight who fought in the 100 Years War, which is really cool.  Check out the whole thing over at the original link, but here's a taste:
In his book, de Charny advises knights on how to relate to the fact that they must kill people when they are at war. He also mentions some of the hardships knights face: poor sleep, hunger, and a feeling that even nature is going against them.
It also notes that sometimes the justice system failed to provide justice so men took retribution into their own hands and that was considered acceptable, acknowledging the limits of society issuing justice.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Downton Abbey Season 2 Preview

Coming soon!  Five weeks!   January 8, 2012 to be exact....(I confess to cheating and watching some clips on YouTube uploaded from Great Britain.  Unlike a year ago, they've gotten hip to straight uploads, but folks get around that by assembling clips following one storyline - like Matthew and Mary.)

Watch Downton Abbey Season 2 Preview on PBS. See more from MASTERPIECE.

Nationless Global Elite Vs. US Elite

I sent this Chrystia Feeland Atlantic cover article, Rise of the New Global Elite, to a dear friend of mine who works with these global rich families.  I wasn't even aware of such folks, but they really think of themselves as global citizens.

So the contrast to American billionaires is interesting and continues to be examined.

This time by Felix Salmon at Reuters in a piece called American Plutocracy.  He starts by quoting the indomitable Michael Lewis (whose pieces and reporting in Vanity Fair on the financial global evolution and devolution have been riveting) on Greek billionaires - how ordinary Greeks don't harass them because they don't know where to find them; they are invisible.

Salmon notes that there could be an "Occupy Moscow" because all the Russian billionaires live in London.  Same with Middle Eastern billionaires who own homes in Chelsea in London they visit.  And from there he notes that America does a good job at retaining their billionaires.   He says Americans are more likely to buy second, third and fourth homes in the USA

Money quote:
In a way it’s reassuring that America’s billionaires are still so civic-minded that they buy laws and political parties: it’s a sign that they’re invested in the country and are here for the foreseeable. And the one law they’re not going to repeal any time soon is the most important one — the one which says that US citizens have to pay US federal taxes on their global income, no matter where they live. (Or at least demonstrate that they’ve paid at least that much in taxes elsewhere.) American plutocrats, almost uniquely, are tied to their home country in a way that other members of the global elite can barely imagine.
He says Americans are more likely to buy fourth or tenth homes in the USA before buying one abroad.  

I think that's pretty cool.  

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Hitchens on Jackie O

My mom never liked her, and I never really understood why.   In Vanity Fair Christopher Hitchens comments on the release of her interview tapes with Arthur Schlesinger Jr.:  Widow of Opportunity

I suspect it had something to do with this:
when examined carefully and in context, the pouting refusal to have any ideas except those supplied by her lord and master turns out not to be evidence of winsome innocence but a soft cover for a specific sort of knowingness and calculation.
And this: 
hey certainly make it difficult if not impossible to accept her at her own paradoxical valuation, as merely a self-effacing hostess and decorator.
Regarding Camelot:
Now consider: The nation has just buried a president whose books were replete with the language of valor and grandeur—fit rhetoric forProfiles in Courage. Arlington cemetery has been garlanded as never in the century. The bugle calls can still be heard wafting on the air. And then: Oh, mercy me, why do I worry my pretty little head?—why, all I can call to mind is some plonking ditty from Lerner and Loewe that even the Broadway critics found a tad paltry.
My mother could not abide fakery of any sort, but especially female self-effacing.  I feel proud of her insight.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

"I Will Find You"

I'm seeing signs all around. And having dreams. First last weekend, I saw the preview for The Swell Season, which I did not even know existed. Then this week I did an indie music mix and a song from The Swell Season album was the first up. And then this morning I go to check out Sharon Salzberg's new site and what is there but this... I will take them. They provide me comfort as I worry about a dear friend missing from my life right now....

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cool Bicycle Animation

Just because this is so cool and because my nephew is going to love it:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

HBO to Make Wolf Hall Mini-Series!

My mom LOVED Hilary Mantel.  She was one of her favorite authors and especially loved A Place of Greater Safety: A Novel about the French Revolution.

Well, now the news that HBO is going to be filming the Booker Prize-winning novel Wolf Hall: A Novel .  I was so excited I scream aloud!  Gee, I wish mom had lived to read that book and to enjoy what HBO will do with it.

I learned of this from the culture blog Alyssa at Think Progress, which is worth checking out on a regular basis.

Here is what Alyssa wrote:
It’s a marvelous novel of friendship, whether it’s Cromwell and Wolsey or Cromwell and Imperial diplomat Eustace Chapuys. I don’t really know how a miniseries will capture the Cabinet of Wonders-like effect of the novel, which is one of the most effective evocations of a historic worldview I’ve ever read. But I’m glad it’s not getting reduced to a movie, and that some serious writerly fire-power will be behind it. HBO’s movie team has been wildly on their game lately, so I can’t wait to see what they do with this.
Me neither!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stewart On The "Oops"

So brilliant, so funny, as usual.  Though I do like Billy Baldwin...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Magnificent Murmuration

Absolutely stunning and mesmerizing.  I've never seen any thing like it.  Well, maybe the smoke monster on Lost.  But it's only a mild resemblance.  The reaction of the girls was mine, jaw dropping and smiling.


Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Is Daylight Saving Time Worthwhile Any Longer?

I love the Game of Thrones reference.  This video also well explains the difficulty of trying to schedule world wide conference calls.  And just love the rendition of the the insanity in Arizona.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shakespeare Movie Opens Tomorrow

I love Joely Richardson and Rhys Ifanson.  Also the actor who plays the young Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, Jamie Campbell Bower, also played King Arthur in the short lived Camelot on Starz last year.  He was good in that!

Am looking forward to this film.  A dear friend over 15 years ago wrote a novel about this controversy.

 But important to note real scholarship, as the New York Times reported this weekend, Brush Up on Your Shakespeare, or Whoever
Professor Shapiro, author of “Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?,” called Mr. Emmerich “a charming man and a great filmmaker” but said that his approach was reductively anti-intellectual, and dangerously so. Mr. Emmerich and Sony have produced a documentary and classroom study guide that Professor Shapiro described as full of “half-truths repeated through a 20th-century perspective.” “I have no problem if Roland Emmerich wants to drink the Kool-Aid, but I do have a problem when it’s doled out in small cups to school kids,” he said.
He also said this, which is obviously true:
“That’s so funny,” Professor Shapiro said in response. “If I actually found a document that suggested that the Earl of Oxford wrote ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the age of 9, as the movie would have it, my career would be made.”
But it's just a movie.  I'm glad it will raise awareness., hope it will be entertaining, and regret my friend's novel wasn't the germ for this because it was very good!

787 Finally Flies

Pretty neat. 787 Dreamliner's maiden voyage yesterday from Tokyo to Hong Kong. Still, an American company built it. Boeing. No images of inside, but still kind of cool to see.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Classic Synchronized Swimming

On a lighter note, here is a fun video about Esther Williams. I sent this to my swim coach the other week who is so young she had no idea to whom I was referring.

Another younger friend I shared this with declared it was the creepiest thing he'd ever seen. Well, his life isn't creepy enough obviously!

I loved these movies when I was a kid. And yes when I grew up, while at Vassar, after foot surgery halted my ballet career, I joined the synchronized swimming team.

And loved it.

Here is Esther:

Poetry, Love and Vulnerability

Okay so the weekend's theme seems to be poetry.

This blog post Everything Moves to Live by Xeni Jardin at the Poetry Foundation web site is awesome.

It's partly a meditation on a movie, Alphaville, a science fiction film I've never seen, but sounds fascinating (and not just because of the synchronized bathing beauties!)
Love is illegal in the dictatorship of Alpha 60. Expressing grief, desire, or tenderness, even reading poetry, these are all crimes punishable by death—specifically,  staged executions in which prisoners are lined up and shot on the edge of a swimming pool filled with with synchronized Busby Berkeley-style bathing beauties.
And partly a meditation on poetry, two poets in particular - Argentinean poet Jorge Luis Borges and his contemporary, the French surrealist Paul Éluard.  I had never heard of the latter (and one of his books is called Capital of Pain - need to check that out)...

but this poem ----

Because I love you, everything moves
We must advance to live
Aim straight ahead toward those you love
I went toward you, endlessly toward the light
If you smile, it enfolds me all the better
The rays of your arms pierce the mist
from Éluard’s 1924 work, “Mourir de ne pas mourir” (“Dying Of Not Dying”)

Of this Jardin remarks - 
They express for me, better than my own words can, what it means to submit to the vulnerability that love requires. They capture what it means to accept that control and order are illusion, never mind what technology promises; chaos and chance are the magic in intimacy. They remind me of the eventuality of pain that any deep bond with another person entails, no matter how rich and blissful the sweet parts are.
Control and order are an illusion.  Particularly regarding agency over your own body.  I agree with every syllable of her observation and love the poem too.  

In the movie, poetry is what transform darkness into light.  Jardin calls poetry (and I love this too)-
command-line prompt of the human operating system

Friday, October 21, 2011

Poetry, Death and a Wind

I went to a funeral this morning, for the husband of a dear friend of mine.

The service was very beautiful.  Great hymns - Love, divine, all love's excelling and For all the saints (not the New Orleans melody, but just as beautiful).  One of the readings reminded me of the context of the bible verse on my mother's tombstone - which, obviously, moved me.  The second reading was I Corinthians 13:1-13, which is better known for the "Love is patient, love is kind," verses often read at weddings.

But I loved this, at the start of that chapter:
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all the mysteries and all the knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love trumps all - faith, knowledge, talents, power, things, your body.  Love changes all.  God's unconditional love, our love for others, receiving love.

Toward the end was my mom's verse-
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we shall see face to face.
My mom said to me, about that verse, that it was an awesome promise.   Here's my youngest niece at the grave site who last April asked me to take her to the cemetery.   You can see part of the verse engraved at the top.

And then at the end a bagpiped played Flowers of the Forest, which I had never heard and is a Scottish Folk Tune.  The melody embodied so much.   We walked outside for the committal into the Columbarium.  The crisp day was made a bit warmer by the bright sunshine.

The wounded National Cathedral, still closed, loomed in the background and added to the sadness.

But then as we together, for the second time, said the Lord's Prayer together a wind passed over us and...well, I felt God, love, my mother.  I felt a lot, exhaled and surrendered.

And finally, because of his military service, a lone bugler played Taps.

But what I also really wanted to share was the awe-some poem my friend Joanne selected for the bulletin.   I love so much about this:
If Death is Kind
Perhaps if death is kind, and there can be returning.
We will come back to earth some fragrant night,
And take these lanes to find the sea, and bending
Breathe the same honeysuckle, low and white.
We will come down at night to these resounding beaches
And the long genre thunder of the sea,
Here for a single hour in the wide starlight
We shall be happy, for the dead are free
 - by Sara Teasdale
 Here are some photos of the Cathedral from that day:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Byzantine's Bad Rap

I love Slate's Explainer column.  Today's edition is on how Byzantine came to mean "deviously convoluted"

Here's the crux:
Was the Byzantine system of government especially complex?Only compared to those of medieval Europe. 
Read more here.  

And related, I LOVED LOVED LOVED these free podcasts - 12 Byzantine Rulers by Lars Brownsworth.  The podcasts are also available on iTunes.  Very lively, very political and very interesting history.  Also a good bit of church history.   Many of these great stories not commonly known or taught in US schools.   His book Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization alludes to that (and is very readable too).

The Ardnamurchan Viking - An Amazing Find

Like myself, my mom loved books set in Britain in the past.  

So this news caught my eye at BBC News -
The UK mainland's first fully intact Viking boat burial site has been uncovered in the west Highlands, archaeologists have said.  The site, at Ardnamurchan, is thought to be more than 1,000 years old.
It's really really cool.

Items from Ireland and Norway in the site too.  Amazing.  

Read more here and there's is also a great graphic and a very good short video, less than two minutes at the link.  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Marshmallows, Muppets, Stephen Colbert and The Newshour

Im not sure when this aired on PBS' Newshour, but the clip from the Colbert Report are from June. No matter - still funny, and about that delayed gratification marshmallow test.

Watch Leather Muppet to Stephen Colbert: You Are What You Eat on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Erik Todd Dellums, My Man in WaPo!

I LOVE this man!  One of my best friends.  And I've been fortunate to know him for a long time.

I am so glad he is being recognized (even if I don't agree with his criticism of Obama).

Actor Erik Todd Dellums Stirs the Political Pot with Blog Posts About Obama  was in yesterday's Washington Post.

It concludes with this:

Dellums hopes he gets the chance to meet Obama at Sunday’s dedication of the King memorial. 
“I’m going to be the voice of God,” he said, using the theatrical term for an anonymous announcer. “I get to announce all the good folks, including the Queen of Soul,” he said (Aretha Franklin is scheduled to perform). “I’m excited to do it because I love Martin Luther King Jr. And the president is a brother!” 
What would be even better is if he were to get the acting role of his dreams: to play Obama in the biopic of the 44th president. 
“There are certain roles you just know you’re born to play,” Dellums said. 
“I have no desire to play the first black president,” he adds. “I want to play the greatest president that ever lived.”
Erik is an idealist and a purist, which is why I love him.  And fearless.   And we just love debating politics!

He is also a very kind and loving friend, and I am a lucky gal!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paul Simon Deepens Meaning of "Songs of Silence"

Lots of moving moments to yesterday's remembrances. Including this performance at Ground Zero.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Where Good Ideas Come From

Check this out.  Fun and interesting.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Can NOT Wait for "One Day"

Can NOT wait for this movie to open.  Just read the book the other week and, yes, sobbed over it.  The novel really resonated and the trailer looks promising....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Zen on PBS!

That's as in Aurelio Zen, not Buddhist Zen.

My mom LOVED Michael Dibdin's mystery books set in contemporary Italy.   (Though my very favorite is not of the Zen series, but a stand alone called Dirty Tricks - really entertaining and skillful unreliable narrator.

And now this adaptation airs on PBS.  I'm so sorry she didn't live to enjoy.  It looks so yummy

I love Rufus Sewall, and frankly he is a bit more glamourous than described in the books (I can't begrudge this change).   But much else is the same: Scrupulous integrity is still a slur in the Italian police force.

Can't wait for this series to premiere later this month!

Here is the good looking and tempting preview:

Watch Zen Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Flower Mart at National Cathedral

This year the Flower Mart celebrated Austria (last year it was Great Britain I think).

A beautiful day with Tulin at my favorite place in DC.

The crowd gathers for music and dance performances.

An organ grinder who in additional to traditional folk songs also played some Simon and Garfunkle.

Harpist inside.

The view from the tower toward the Mall.  See the Washington Monument?

Looking down on the crowds below....

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Double Rainbow in Georgetown!

Obama Rocks

This photo is making the rounds.  Just love it.  

I mean really - how unserious are those lunatics?   Remember Bush saying Osama didn't matter?   

Obama at Ground Zero

Watching the president lay a wreath at the survivor tree at ground zero.

I didn't know what that was. To learn, click here

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is chewing gum!

Waxing Poetic About Abbotabad

I too had seen Christopher Hitchen's piece which captured a bit of the history of Abbotabad, named after James Abbot, while writing in his admirable pointed way:
The colonial British—like Maj. James Abbott, who gave his name to this one—called them "hill stations," designed for the rest and recreation of commissioned officers. The charming idea, like the location itself, survives among the Pakistani officer corps. If you tell me that you are staying in a rather nice walled compound in Abbottabad, I can tell you in return that you are the honored guest of a military establishment that annually consumes several billion dollars of American aid. It's the sheer blatancy of it that catches the breath.
But then the Boston Globe noted that James Abbot wrote a poem about Abbotabad which is in Lady Garden Square in the city. The opening lines:
I remember the day when I first came here
And smelt the sweet Abbottabad air

The trees and ground covered with snow
Gave us indeed a brilliant show

To me the place seemed like a dream
And far ran a lonesome stream

The wind hissed as if welcoming us
The pine swayed creating a lot of fuss
Josh Rothman concludes: "It looks like a pretty nice place to hide from the largest manhunt in the history of the world."

Indeed! And then there is my friend Michael Oberman who quipped:
Since the US found and killed Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan, it seems logical that the second in command of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri is hiding in Costellobad, Pakistan.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

About Obama's Leadership Style

Jeff Goldberg, The Atlantic writes about Obama's leadership style in reacting to this picture, noting how his is off in a corner and not the center of the photo.
This speaks well of him, to my mind; a president who kills America's enemies without swagger is better than a swaggerer who doesn't kill America's enemies. (Maybe here I'm casting a few aspersions on Bush.)
Yes, he is casting aspersions. But it is accurate.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

What's on Bin Laden's Computer

Dan Amira over at New York Magazine's Daily Intel put this satirical pie chart together.

Original post here. Click over.

Hmmm, Wonder About CIA Agent Ray Davis

Let us not forget this diplomatic impasse from earlier this year when CIA agent Ray Davis was arrested for killing two Pakistanis after some sort of altercation. The Pakistanis didn't want to release him.

Here is the LA Times on March 17th, reporting on his release.

Wonder what effect that all had on the decisions leading up to events this past weekend, eh? Any one seen anything?

Monday, May 02, 2011

NPR Interviews Ambassador Haqqani

A few difficulties with this interview - such as stating the obvious. Ending a question with "It just doesn't look good." "Doesn't it strain credulity?" "Isn't this an embarrassment? Yes, of course it does, it is. Ask more pointed questions!

Also, she played back a section of the interview she'd done with Senator Kerry. I would have zeroed in more on Kerry's complaint that we had been misled (aka lied to) regarding where Bin Laden had to have been. These open ended questions - what would you say to Sen. Kerry?" instead of - have you misled US Senators? The US government. And Ambassador Haqqani claims this is not the day to focus on those misdirections. Clear follow up - when would be the time?

In Pakistan 2+2 doesn't always equal 4. Seriously! He claims that.

The Pakistanis seem to be going with - we're stupid rather than we're complicit.

Anyway, listen to Melissa Block interview the Pakistani ambassador to the USA, Husain Haqqani here

Sen. John Kerry On Pakistan

Melissa Block of NPR interviews John Kerry about Pakistan and the killing of Bin Laden. Hard not to contemplate the what ifs if Ohio had gone the other way

Click here to listen.

Looking Forward to Summer Movie - One Day

On a lighter note, I am looking forward to this film, One Day, to be released this summer. Has any one read the book? The plot resonates...

National Cathedral the Day After

I did go to the Cathedral the next day, to pray.  For my country, my president, for peace.  

And to show Allen, my dear friend Sheryl's husband, my favorite place in the district.  Isn't it stunning??


Osama Bin Laden is Dead - Scenes & Sounds from the White House

I was in the bathtub when the news broke that the president would have an important national security announcement at 10:30 pm on a Sunday night.  

I wasn't expecting this news.  My Turkish friend, Tulin, who is a journalist asked if I wanted to go down to the White House with her.  I did.  

The feeling on the streets was unlike anything I'd ever experienced.  Honking and smiles.   I was celebrating those in the White House who had worked so hard to get justice.  The lights were still on in both the White House and the Old Executive Office Building.  We were there to support them, the military, the Navy Seals that did this.  Occasionally and rarely there were some tasteless utterances, racist or jingoistic, but the rest of the crowd looked askance at that and them.   In my experience, that kind of thing was rare.

More broadly - I, we, were there to feel good about our government not being feckless and ineffectually.  Not being a victim.  I just felt happy about that.  There lots of happy tears.

And then a young man in a spiderman costume climbed a tree along the fence to the White House.  The crowd laughed and cheered and cried.  All with joy.

I am glad I was there.  

Here are my photos of that night, at the White House, between the White House and Lafayette Park. 

Some videos first.  The videos are dark and hard to see, but the sounds...the sound reveal what it was like too.  

Here are some photos, brightened up.